Hamish Morrison Galerie is delighted to start its 2011 programme with the group exhibition Treffpunkt. The show brings together several of the gallery’s artists, drawing overlooked connections between them and illustrating the ways in which different traditions and ideas collide within their practices.
Judy Millar’s (NZ) paintings seem, at first glance, to have their roots in Abstract Expressionism. However, Millar’s gestural marks are in fact a means of drawing; a way to explore the paradoxical relationship painting has with the world it seeks both to represent and be a part of. In her latest work, she creates images that float in a characteristically ambiguous space between figure and ground, and that seem to refer to forms from the natural world, such as pine cones and spider’s webs. Mikala Dwyer (Australia) also deploys modernist and organic forms in much of her work. She uses intimate, domestic objects such as lamps, ashtrays and living plants to create sculptures that set up unsettling conversations between modernism, magic, memory and myth.
Domestic objects also play an essential role in Fabian Seiz’s (Austria) sculptures. Seiz works almost exclusively in wood – a material that implies intimacy and homeliness. However, he uses it to create “machines”; objects that would normally be constructed from cold, modern materials such as steel and plastic. This collision between the handcrafted and the contemporary forces us to examine the modern world with fresh eyes. Similarly, Han Schuil (The Netherlands) makes us slow down and reflect on contemporary culture. He takes fleeting images – a building, a repair in the road, or, famously, a Batman mask hanging on the door of a WC – and turns them into paintings that demand time and stillness from viewers. Using everyday forms as a lure, he hooks viewers on his images. Once he has caught them, a complex dialogue about paint, and painting’s history, takes over from the brazenness of his found images.
Frank Badur’s (Germany) work demands a different kind of stillness. His meditative, minimalist approach has exerted a huge influence on a younger generation of German painters. His recent paintings show a distillation of more than thirty years’ exploration of colour-field painting, as he creates hard-edged abstractions that have their roots in modernist practices but also display a unique and contemporary understanding of the emotional impact of colour, light and space. Prudencio Irazabal (Spain) is similarly concerned with the effects of colour. The surfaces of his works are perfectly smooth skins, and yet the paintings have a profound depth, created through multiple layers of paint that penetrate each other and dissolve into pure, ambiguous light.
Sophia Schama (Germany) also plays with spatial ambiguities in her paintings. In the works on display here, she builds up bright grounds of paint, only to lay a Perspex surface over the top, which she then also paints, erasing the marks beneath but also interacting with them. Meanwhile, Ronald de Bloeme (The Netherlands) takes a different approach to erasure, appropriating commercial and advertising logos and “censoring” them by working over his designs with enamel bands that look like masking tape or blacked out sections of official texts. By censoring these logos – many of which are global brands or media organisations that exercise huge power over us – he does to them what they do to our daily experience. In doing so, he also questions his own practice: like many of the artists in Treffpunkt, he actively examines his role as an art-maker, and scrutinises the way his work functions in the world.